The Asklepios Orchestra is an amateur orchestra, founded in 1969 by Dr. David Humphreys, a Physician in the Birmingham General Hospital where the orchestra originally rehearsed. However, following refurbishment of the General, our orchestra needed to move and we now rehearse in the Medical School of the University of Birmingham in Edgbaston.Although the orchestra has a "medical" origin and we are based within the Medical School, we welcome players from anywhere. You do not have to be "medical" or a member of the Medical School or the University to join us. This year the orchestra celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Lee Armstrong studied music, concentrating on the cello, composition and orchestration, at the University of Birmingham, graduating in 2000. Upon graduating, he co-founded two large cello ensembles, The University of Birmingham Cello Ensemble and ‘Celli’. He began conducting in 2004, initially with Celli, but was soon offered a post conducting and coaching Dudley Performing Arts Advanced Strings, a position he held from 2005 to 2010. As a result of his work with DPA, in 2008 he was offered the opportunity to conduct the strings of Central England Ensemble in an annual concert, and took up the post of Assistant Conductor of South Birmingham Sinfonia in 2009. He coached the strings and conducted string sectionals with South Birmingham Sinfonia, alongside Principal Conductor Lee Differ, until 2013.
Lee made his symphonic conducting debut with Central England Ensemble, and was appointed Associate Conductor, in November 2011. From then until June 2015, he conducted three concerts per year with the orchestra.Notable repertoire includes Janacek’s Suite for Strings, Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, his own orchestration of Lekeu’s Piano Sonata as a Symphony for Strings, Kalinnikov’s Symphony No.1, Barber’s Violin Concerto (with Amy Littlewood), Copland’s Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo, Debussy’s Danses sacrées et danses profanes (with harpist Rita Schindler), a concert of film music and the UK premiere of Vladimir Yurovsky’s Symphony No.5.
Lee has also been an Associate Conductor of the Birmingham-based chamber orchestra Eroica camerata since 2010. Conducting highlights with the orchestra include Arnold Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (with Jacob Torma), his own orchestration of Vaughan-Williams’ Five English Folk Songs and Leonid Desyatnikov’s virtuoso, ‘tango-concerto’ arrangement of Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (with Amy Littewood).
As a cellist, Lee performed with Central England Ensemble from 2001 to 2015 and with Sinfonia of Birmingham from 2005 to 2010. He has also been section principal of Eroica camerata since the orchestra’s inception in 2005.
Lee is a prolific arranger and orchestrator. He has made cello ensemble arrangements for Oxford Cello School, Birmingham Conservatoire and the cello section of the RTE Symphony Orchestra. His string orchestra arrangements have been played around the UK, in Germany, the USA, Australia and Russia. Several of them are published by Good Music and videos of the Moscow-based Chamber Orchestra Kremlin performing his arrangements of works by Debussy and Rachmaninov can be found on Youtube.
Lee has a great passion for unusual repertoire and Russian music in particular. In 2015 he founded his own small string orchestra, Off the Beaten Track Strings. The ensemble gives two free concerts per year with a collection in aid of a local or national charity. The orchestra specialises in approachable and enjoyable works by unheard-of composers, and lesser-known works by more famous composers.
Lee is also a full-time Graphic Designer with Birmingham Royal Ballet.
We are always looking for new players, particularly lower strings and brass. If you would like to join us and wish to have further information, please fill in the form and we will come back to you as soon as possible.